An Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is a water territory prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). An EEZ is a water territory where nations are given the right to practice certain activities like exploration and use of marine resources. They can also use it for the production of energy from water and wind.

The EEZ also gives a nation the exclusive right for developing the resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone of India. The area can be used for the extraction of oil, offshore wind farms, natural gas, and access to finishing grounds.

Before the concept of Exclusive Economic Zone was introduced in the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the territorial waters were used as the basis for a nation’s economic activities. The territorial waters were defined as up to 12 nautical miles (22 km) from a country’s coastline. In contrast, the EEZ is the area that should not be extended beyond 200 miles from the baseline.

Also Read: Indian Economy Syllabus for UPSC 2021: Here’s Everything to Know about the UPSC Syllabus 

Rights Under EEZ

In the Exclusive Economic Zone, every country has these particular rights addressed by the UNCLOS:

#1. Exploration or exploitation, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or nonliving.

#2. Economic exploration or exploitation of the zone for producing energy from the water currents or winds.

#3. Establishment and use of artificial islands, structures and installations.

#4. Scientific research of the marine.

#5. Protecting and preserving the marine environment.

These were some of the fundamental rights of EEZ provided by UNCLOS.

Territorial Waters


A baseline is a straight line along the coast of a nation from which the sea’s territorial area and other maritime zones are measured. A sea baseline follows a coast’s low water line. The regular baseline used to measure the breadth of the territorial sea is the low water line.

A Detailed Guide for UPSC Aspirants

1. Internal Waters

The area with a baseline that faces landward is referred to as internal waters. The internal waters run sideways of a nation’s water territory’s baseline, facing towards the land. This doesn’t apply to archipelagic states. Archipelagic states are groups of islands forming one state. The nations get complete sovereignty over the internal waters. Even an innocent passage through the internal waters is not allowed without permission.

Also Read: How to Study Geography for UPSC? A Step-by-step Guide to Study Geography for Mains and Prelims

2. Territorial Sea

As defined by UNCLOS in 1982, the belt of coastal waters that extends from the baseline of a coastal state to up to 12 nautical miles (22 km) is called the territorial sea. The territorial sea also comes under the state’s sovereignty. Both military and civilian foreign ships are allowed for innocent passage through the territorial sea.

3. Contiguous Zone

The contiguous zone is the water territory extending up to 24 nautical miles (44 km) from the coastal state’s baseline. The state has limited control over the contiguous zone for preventing and punishing offences like fiscal, infringement of customs, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations.

4. Exclusive Economic Zone

An Exclusive Economic Zone extends from the baseline to up to 200 nautical miles (370.4 km). The contiguous zone is also included in the EEZ. A state has all the control over the EEZ for all economic activities.

5. Continental Shelf

The continental shelf is a part of the continent that lies under the shallow water of the sea called the shelf sea. The continental shelf is a feature of the continental margin, which also has continental rise and continental slope. The continental shelf either extends to the continental margin’s outer edge, or it is at least 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the baseline of the territorial sea. The nations have the right to explore and exploit the seabed for the natural resources that lie on or beneath the seabed. If authorised, then other nations can lay cables and pipelines on the continental shelf.

India’s Exclusive Economic Zone

India has the 18th largest Exclusive Economic Zone globally with a total area of more than 2 million sq km. In the southwestern coast of India lies the Lakshadweep group island in the Laccadive Sea, and the Andaman and Nicobar lie in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. In the west, India’s EEZ is bordered by Pakistan, in the south by the Maldives and Sri Lanka, and in the east by Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia and Thailand.

Following is the Area km2 of India’s existing Exclusive Economic Zone:

  • Area km2 of Mainland India and Lakshadweep is 1,641,514 kilometres.
  • Area km2 of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is 663,629 kilometres.
  • The total Area km2 after adding both the area sizes is 2,305,143 km2.

Importance of India’s EEZ

Exclusive Economic Zone in India provides access to many resources like natural gas, oil, minerals, commercial fishing, international trade, and most importantly, national security. India has a greater benefit as it has a coastline stretch of 7,500 km and an Exclusive Economic Zone of more than 2 million sq km. India’s exclusive control over the EEZ resources is the navigation of seafaring trade and transport vessels in the zone. India’s exploitation of marine fishery resources is at only 3.2 million tonnes per year, where the potential of exploitation in India is 3.92 million tonnes per year in the coastal areas.

Also Read: Global Climate Risk Index 2021: Check out these Important Points for the Upcoming UPSC Examination

India’s Claim Over Increased EEZ Area

The UNCLOS has permitted EEZ extension beyond the usual limit of 200 nautical miles to the maximum 350 nautical miles. The extension is only possible if there is any evidence showing that the continental shelf runs beyond 200 nautical miles. Based on sedimentary and scientific evidence with over 6,000 pages, India petitioned the United Nations to increase their current 200 nautical miles EEZ to 350 nautical miles. The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in India had initiated a project in 1999 for the integrated management and mapping of the Exclusive Economic Zone in India, which is still going on. The project achieved only 30% completion in the year 2018.

A team of 60 scientists from different national institutes begin the multi-disciplinary study on various topics like physiography, sedimentology, geoscientific mapping, palaeoclimatology and Himalayan tectonics, hydrology of India, and availability of mineral resources. These studies in various aspects are also helping the nation prepare against any environmental hazard and ensure the well-being of the people living in the coastal areas.


The topic of the Exclusive Economic Zone in India will help the aspirants of UPSC to understand both the economic and geographical factors of the situation. The resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone of India gives the whole picture of why it is important to read and understand this subject. There are many topics a UPSC aspirant will find during their preparations. To get the best preparations, the students should visit the UPSC Pathshala website, as it covers all the crucial topics of the UPSC. Take our free demo class to get acquainted with our personal mentorship. Who knows? You might feel like joining our family. For any details or queries, reach out to us on our official website.

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Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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